The Hidden Toll of Invading Iraq


I am an Army Nurse Corps Captain stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington DC. I feel compelled to share with anyone who will listen what I have seen. You see, when Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) troops are evacuated out of Germany, the huge majority are brought here to WRAMC by Air Force flight nurses and docs. I do not have access to any of the numbers of how many wounded and what types of injuries, etc., but I can honestly tell you that the OIF wounded occupy more than half of our two major intensive care units at any given time.

At times, we get so full while expecting more to arrive, that we have to hound the docs to transfer somebody out of our unit to a ward upstairs so we have beds for these soldiers. Most of these wounded soldiers come into our unit on a ventilator breathing for them, with severe wounds caused by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) or AK-47 gunshot wounds. Many, many soldiers have already lost limbs or eyes before they even get to us, and many have received dozens of units of blood before they left Germany.

I am privileged to take care of these brave men and women. But it breaks my heart to realize that the incredible losses that they and their loved ones will have to deal with for the rest of their lives seem to have not been for the good of our country. Rather, their pain and sorrow have merely allowed a few greedy souls to make a power grab for more wealth and control. One of my dear friends has tried to convince me that this is all part of God’s plan, and the death and pain is for some greater purpose that our leaders are not telling us yet.

I wish I could believe her. It would make my job and daily life much easier, but I cannot buy it. I apologize to the reader for my tangential thought processes, but this never-ending situation is getting to many military nurses. Anyway, the following is my main point in reaching out to you.

As you might be aware, the press is being tightly controlled and what is being reported from a medical standpoint is only a fraction of the true reality. Yes, I do believe the daily number of killed that CNN and whoever report is accurate. What I am saying is that the walking wounded are being sorely ignored.

Don’t believe me? Walter Reed is an open base, not a tightly controlled fort. Just have a valid ID and consent to a vehicle search. Then park, and walk inside. You will see so many 20-something, mostly men, missing arms, legs, and eyes. The blinders covering your eyes will be ripped away as you see the poor families making their daily walk from the Malogne house to the wards and units to see their sons or husbands.

It is so sad to see a young wife or fiancée cry over her honey who was in Iraq less than one month before losing both legs, and who has had several abdominal surgeries that leave his belly crisscrossed with staples, and now he is fighting for his life from the infection that the injuries have caused. And that is just one example of what I saw this week. I will spare you any more wrenching true stories.

God help our men and women in uniform. Please do something to end this madness.

Dover to DC March

On March 14-15, just before the first anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, military families and peace groups organized a march from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to the White House. Dover is the base where the bodies of US soldiers killed in Iraq are flown into the US. Not even the victims’ families are allowed to be present when bodies are brought onto the base. The Bush administration refuses to allow any media photographs of the flag draped coffins. This two-day event included a memorial procession, ceremonies, a visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and delivery of a call at the White House to end the occupation and war.